Voter Identity Theft: Submitting Changes to Voter Registrations Online to Disrupt Elections

Voter Identity Theft: Submitting Changes to Voter Registrations Online to Disrupt Elections

Official voter record websites for thirty-five states and the District of Columbia were vulnerable to "voter identity theft" attacks in 2016, a report from the Harvard University Institute for Quantitative Social Science finds. The report, Voter Identity Theft: Submitting Changes to Voter Registrations Online to Disrupt Elections, found that enough information could be acquired from government agencies, data brokers, the deep web, and the "dark net" to impersonate voters on all thirty-six sites — and possibly undermine the legitimacy of elections with bogus address changes, the submission of bogus absentee ballots, changing the party affiliation of voters to make them ineligible to cast a vote in a closed party primary, and/or actually deleting voters from the rolls. Funded by the Ford, MacArthur, and Knight foundations, the study also found that many states review logs of registration change requests to identify unusual activity and that election officials in most states had in place practices whereby a human made the final decision to accept or reject a change submitted online.